NOW, LET’S BE HONEST
I sit down and write. My pen scratches the surface of a notebook, the only sound in the silent house. I have the plot, the characters, the scenes; they’re all written on the pages of my memory. But recall is a funny thing, and time distorts it. So I struggle to weave the big picture and simultaneously dissect the nuances, all the while reliving my emotionally laden experiences…
Andrew and I always patted ourselves on the back. We did an awesome job raising our son, Eli – everybody said so. He was a wonderful child who understood boundaries and the consequences for crossing them. He was kind, empathetic, and loving. So it would stand to reason that our awesomeness would heal a damaged child and we could easily mold him/her into an extension of our family.
At the time we didn’t realize it wasn’t that we were exceptional parents, but rather Eli was an exceptional child: Intelligent, mature and easygoing.
We humored the foster-adopt agency as we sat through the twelve hours of parenting classes. We didn’t need those; we were already parents, fantastic ones, and we had enough experience to mold any child into a mini Eli.
We were so humbly proud that we were willing to adopt a child with practically any problems, from any background. For practical reasons, we couldn’t have a medically fragile child or a child in a wheelchair. And we didn’t think a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder would be a good fit for our family.
“I’m too selfish to parent a child like that,” I told Andrew. It was probably the most humble, most honest thing I said during that time.
We thought we were doing the right thing by taking in a homeless child rather than contributing to the overpopulated world currently taxing Mother Earth. In all honesty, we were trying to save our marriage.
As we walked down the road to adoption, through all the classes, the paperwork, fingerprints and physical exams; as we let the social workers view every intimate detail of our lives from our childhood and all its dysfunction to our adulthood and its additional dysfunction, people would tell us how selfless we were to take in a foster child. (What they really meant was potentially fucked up child.)
They would say, “It takes a special person to do what you’re doing; I could never do it.”
I would shake my head and say, “No, no, I’m not that special, I’m just doing what God has called me to do.” But my ego absorbed the accolades, and I shared it over and over to stroke my ego more.
I went to hell and back many times over the next few years. My ego was dragged through the mud, tarred and stoned, ripped wide open until only tears of humility could sew it shut. I messed up, not because of what I did but because of my motives for doing it.
And I’ve paid for it. God, have I paid for it.
The most difficult thing I’ve had to relive is this question: Did I make the right choice? When all is said and done, was this the right choice for my husband and my son? For me? But most importantly, was it the right choice for my daughters?